Yoku’s Island Express Preview: Pinball Beetle
Greg Johnson / Oct 5th, 2017 No Comments
Yoku’s Island Express is an adventure-platformer in which players take control of a dung beetle that becomes Mokumana island’s new mailman. But there’s a unique catch to Yoku’s Island Express. A lot of the platforming involves bouncing around different colored bumpers like a pinball game.
This initial pitch had me hesitant, but developer Villa Gorilla got me excited for Yoku’s Island Express at PAX West 2017 with its demo build.
The Mail Always Comes
Yoku has recently arrived at a fantastical island featuring all manner of talking creatures and strange beasts with a simple task: take over as the island’s de facto mail delivery individual.
The demo gave me a good idea of the game’s overall theme and stunning art style, although the focus was far from the plot. It is the gorgeous visuals and soothing music that commands attention.
The vivid, detailed world immediately drew me in. Hand drawn elements bring the game to life in a beautiful fashion. Grass gently sways in a realistic manner that doesn’t clash with the stylized animation.
On top of the gorgeous visuals, the soundtrack provides a light-hearted tropical feel that creates a mystical island vibe.
Unlike in most platformers, Yoku is unable to jump. The beetle pushes mail about the island of Mokumana, but colored bumpers timed to button inputs send the character into different directions, allowing Yoku to move through platforming sections. It works and looks much like pinball.
Each color of bumper corresponds to a specific button on the controller. There are also multicolored bumpers that can be activated by pressing either corresponding button.
In addition to the uncommon blend of pinball and platforming mechanics, Yoku’s Island Express has elements of a collect-a-thon games. Players can simply go from objective to objective, but taking the time to explore the island along the way reaps benefits.
Fruits can be collected and turned in for upgrades to Yoku and what he can do. Often times, I’d purposefully (or accidentally) miss a path forward to go back and collect fruits that had appeared via my pinballing about. Hidden objects are plentiful and switches unlock further items to collect.
Expressway To Release
Despite having no definitive release date, Yoku’s Island Express is a game worth getting excited for. The PAX West 2017 build I played was engaging, unique and handled incredibly well on top of looking gorgeous.
Yoku’s Island Express will release on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC and Nintendo Switch in 2018.
tags: PAX , PAX West 2017 , preview , Yoku's Island Express , Yoku's Island Express Preview